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Rescuers search for dozens buried in Indonesian landslides

March 7, 2023
Associated Press

Rescuers were searching for 47 people who were believed to be buried in their houses by landslides that tore through villages on Indonesia’s remote Natuna islands after torrential rains. Eleven people were confirmed dead, officials said Tuesday.

Eight others were pulled alive with injuries, three of whom in critical condition, said National Disaster Management Agency chief Suharyanto.

They were rushed to a hospital in nearby Ranai as well as Pontianak city on Borneo island, about 285 kilometres from Genting and Pangkalan villages. They are located on a remote island surrounded by choppy waters and high waves in the Natuna archipelago at the edge of the South China Sea.

There were reports that 47 people were trapped in 27 houses that were buried on Monday under tons of mud from surrounding hills.


The landslides displaced more than 1,200 people who were taken to evacuation centres and other shelters. Authorities feared the death toll could rise.

National Disaster Management Agency spokesperson Abdul Muhari said two helicopters and several vessels carrying rescuers, medical teams and relief supplies, including tents, blankets and food, had departed Jakarta and nearby islands.

“Distribution of relief supplies has been difficult because the injured and displaced are spread out and hard to reach,” Muhari said. The search and rescue operation has been hampered by rainy weather around the disaster site, downed communications lines and lack of heavy equipment.

Seasonal rains and high tides in recent days have caused dozens of landslides and widespread flooding across much of Indonesia, a chain of 17,000 islands where millions of people live in mountainous areas or near fertile flood plains close to rivers.

In November 2022, a landslide triggered by a 5.6 magnitude earthquake killed at least 335 people in West Java’s Cianjur city, about a third of them children.

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